Williamson County has begun to explore the use of propane powered vehicles for a portion of its fleet. As a part of this process, several propane fueling stations have been built, including one in Round Rock near the Jester Annex. More from the county release:
“Williamson County will celebrate the opening of its new propane fueling station with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, January 5, at 10:30 a.m. The station is located at the J.B. & Hallie Jester Williamson County Annex behind the Sheriff’s Office/EMS substation, 1781 E. Old Settlers Blvd., Round Rock, Texas. The ceremony will take place at the tank pumps located behind the EMS and Sheriff’s sub-station. Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter will be the special guest at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Williamson County pursued and received grants to fund the conversion of selected County vehicles and the construction of countywide propane fueling sites based on several benefits provided by the incorporation of propane. Williamson County currently has 24 propane fueled vehicles in operation and will have approximately 31 when all the conversions are completed. In addition to the Round Rock fueling station, fueling stations are located in Georgetown, Cedar Park, Florence, Taylor and Granger.
Benefits of propane include the reduced environmental impact of propane emissions, cost savings of propane fuel compared to the average cost per gallon of gasoline, and reduced number of oil changes required. In addition, propane is 97 percent North American produced, with one third of the propane supply being produced here in Texas.
Propane vehicles have the longest driving range of any alternative fuel – more than 250 percent farther than compressed natural gas, about 60 percent farther than methanol, and 25 percent farther than ethanol. Those who drive propane-powered vehicles say that there are no significant driving differences between dedicated propane vehicles and gasoline-powered ones, and many propane vehicle fleets have reported two to three years longer service life and extended intervals between required maintenances compared to gasoline vehicles.
According to the Southwest Research Institute and the World Liquid Propane Gas Association, propane exhaust creates 60 to 70 percent less smog-producing hydrocarbons than gasoline. Compared to gasoline, propane yields 12 percent less carbon dioxide, about 20 percent less nitrous oxide, and as much as 60 percent less carbon monoxide. Propane cuts emissions of toxins and carcinogens like benzene and toluene by up to 96 percent compared to gasoline.
Finally, during the last 12 months the average price of gasoline to Williamson County was $3.15 per gallon and the average price of propane for the same time period was $1.82. In addition, the County will be eligible for a $0.50 cent per gallon Federal tax credit upon completion of all fueling stations, making the cost of propane $1.36 per gallon. Williamson County Fleet Services anticipates a projected yearly fuel savings of $61,000.”
Locally, Tony Dale works for Ferrellgas and have been helpful by providing information on propane and propane powered vehicles to members of the court and county staff. Thanks to Ferrellgas for sponsoring the refreshments at the reception.
(This column consists of my opinions and observations and does not reflect that of any other person or organization.)